Good morning ... and welcome back. Congratulations if you are a federal worker finally back at work.
Was this email forwarded to you? Sign up here.
Surprise medical bills have received a lot of attention recently for the financial distress they cause their recipients. But they can also lead to the rest of us paying more for health care.
Between the lines: If an insurer doesn’t agree to a high enough rate, there’s the option to charge for out-of-network care. This can result in higher emergency room rates across the board.
Details: A Yale study last year, analyzing data from a large insurer, found that when 1 of the 2 largest ER staffing firms, EmCare, entered a hospital, total payments to the insurer increased by 122%.
Yes, but: "This is a specific niche of providers who have found this unethical, narrow wedge in the system where they can make significant amounts of money off the backs of patients," Yale's Zach Cooper, an author of the study, told my colleague Bob Herman.
PhRMA, the drug industry's leading trade group, is considering a proposal that would commit member companies to limiting increases in the prices of drugs purchased by Medicare, BioCentury reported this weekend.
Why it matters: Rising brand-name drug costs are due largely to price inflation, a January Health Affairs study found, while generic and specialty drug price increases are driven more by new products entering the market.
What we're watching: whether Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar thinks this is a reasonable policy trade if it's pitched to him.
If Humira, the drug that treats a range of autoimmune conditions, were its own company, it would have almost the same amount of annual sales as Southwest Airlines or Visa and would be more than twice the size of the Hilton global hotel chain, Bob reports.
The big picture: AbbVie has several other drugs, but Humira is its financial bread and butter.
Researchers are trying to address sickle-cell disease at the genetic level, and it's having drastic results so far among the patients participating in clinical trials, the New York Times reports.
The bottom line: "This would be the first genetic cure of a common genetic disease,” Dr. Edward Benz, a professor at Harvard Medical School, told the NYT.
Have a great week, and please email me tips or feedback at email@example.com.